Saturday January 18, 2014
Speaking from a set that could have been designed by Leni Riefenstahl, President Obama yesterday informed us that not only does our freedom depend on the work of spies, but the very birth of our republic was dependent on the same kind of surveillance network that so many are criticizing today. Critics, therefore, are not only unpatriotic but deeply anti-American. The message was clear: "surveillance equals freedom."
As Constitutional scholar Michael Ratner of The Real News Network points out, if Obama wanted his speech to reassure critics of an intelligence community that has seemingly turned its lens inward, he got it precisely backwards. He did not come out and acknowledge from the start that given recent revelations about NSA surveillance of US phone calls, computers, text messages, etc, our concerns are legitimate and he intends to do something about it. He did not affirm the importance of protecting the First and Fourth Amendments. He did not come out preaching real and concrete reform.
Instead, the president opened his speech placing himself clearly on the side of the surveillance state and opposed to citizens.